No matter how old you are, you’ve likely experienced a lot of firsts in your life. Your first day of school. Your first job. Your first client. What happens when you’re a first-time deponent? It can be intimidating and overwhelming but it doesn’t have to be. Whether you’re a deponent (the person giving a deposition), or an attorney calling a deponent, we offer the following to help make it a smooth process.
If you’re not sure if your witness has ever given a deposition, make it part of the process to ask! Sounds simple but our Orlando court reporters have been part of depositions where it’s clear the witness hasn’t ever given a deposition. This can lead to saying more than they need to say.
Answer Only What Is Asked
“Where were you at 8pm on the night in question?”
“Well, I think I went to the grocery store after work at 5pm or maybe 6pm. I am not sure. Then I went home and made dinner. We had mac and cheese. It was my mother’s recipe and it was so good, very cheesy…..” Seriously, that’s probably not the answer you’re looking for from your witness so it’s better to ask questions and guide them through the process.
In this example, it is necessary to only answer where you were at 8pm. The rest of the line of thought, including what you ate for dinner, is only relevant if it directly relates to the case.
It’s important to be truthful (you’re under oath) and to dress as though you’re going to court, not the beach.
You might think that because you’re going to a conference room and not a courtroom that you can wear shorts and flip flops but that only reflects poorly on you. Whether you’re a first-time deponent or seasoned expert witness, dress like this is an important meeting. Why? Because it is. No matter how insignificant it might seem, you’re part of the case.
Will your outfit be noted on the record? Not likely but that doesn’t mean it’s not important. It only takes a few seconds to make a first impression. That’s the impression that sticks in the minds of people. Even if the next time they see you and you’re in a suit, they will remember the flip flops.
No matter what you wear, it’s important to pay attention, speak clearly, and tell the truth.
There’s a reason you’ve been called in for a deposition. The legal team wants to know what you know that is relevant to their case. If you’re not sure what they’re asking, ask for clarification. If they answer is, “I don’t know,” then say that. If they ask you to speak louder, please do. It will make the process more efficient. And don’t forget to ask questions prior to deposition day.